Winners of the Vineyard Conservation Society High School Art Competition honored at Film Center

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Photography by Jessica Haynes.

The five first-place and 10 special-distinction winners of the 2015 High School Art Competition sponsored by the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) were announced. According to a press release, VCS Executive Director Brendan O’Neill explained that this year’s competition theme was “‘Water, an Island’s Precious Resource.’ Artists were invited to share their thoughts about this subject through their paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, or other media.”

Mr. O’Neill, who is also a photographer, was one of the three judges for the competition, along with Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts, and Hannah Moore, Island artist and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduate. Judges were asked to base their decisions on each work’s adherence to the theme of the competition, originality, creativity, professionalism, and overall impression.

“These were difficult decisions,” said Ms. Smith. “The students clearly put a great deal of thought into their work, and there is a lot of talent in this group.”

All winners were honored at a reception, exhibit, and awards ceremony at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center  as part of the center’s “Nature as Inspiration: The Films of Jacques Perrin” film festival in collaboration with VCS. The winning artwork is on exhibit in the Film Center lobby for the next two weeks.

First prize for painting went to Katherine Reid of MVRHS for her portrait of a fisherman, “Guardian of the Sound.” Ms. Reid said, “Guarding the Sound and the Island’s water is a deeply rooted necessity, part of the Island’s unwritten history that is entwined in the lives of every islander. The importance of protecting our water is visible even in the very eyes of the Island’s inhabitants.” “This is clearly a gifted artist,” commented Mr. O’Neill.

Special distinction in painting went to Margaret Joba-Woodruff for her acrylic figure “Broad Reach.” The work was described by the artist as a reference to sailing and “metaphor for the severity and desperation of the need for water conservation — like being on the edge of a breaking point.”

The winner for drawing was Lucy Thompson of the Charter School. Her pastel drawing of hands and flowers, she said, “represent how water provides for and sustains all life on earth [and] the beauty and abundance that is evident everywhere clean water is present.”

In the photography category, which drew the most entries, first place was awarded to Jessica Haynes of MVRHS for “Smoke,” which Ms. Smith called “a magnificent message” showing the Menemsha Beach and sky just after the ever-well-attended sunset, with a faint image of a plastic wrapper in one corner. Special distinctions for photography went to MVRHS students Olivia Smith for “Reflections,” Caroline Roddy for “Taking Flight,” Kayla Oliver for “Waterfall,” Elijah Laikin for “Untouched,” and Pearl Vercruysse for her untitled work showing “tension [in the balance] between water and the sun.”

For sculpture, first place went to Iris Albert of MVRHS for “Cape Poge,” a built ceramic representation of “the chimneys in the waters off of Chappaquiddick … [illustrating] how water causes change that is destructive, but … makes room for new things.” Special distinctions in sculpture were awarded to Sean O’Malley for “The Foot,” representing the carbon footprint and resilience of nature, and a team of three, Olin Gannon, Tiki Green, and Susanna Becchio, all of MVRHS, for a piece depicting “a scene from nature that has been fractured.” Of the piece, Ms. Moore said, “It is more and more interesting the closer you get.”

First prize for digital media went to Curtis Fisher for a digital video on the uses and value of water on Martha’s Vineyard.

First-prize winners each received $100 cash, and special-distinction winners received gift certificates furnished by Mocha Mott’s, Espresso Love, Nat’s Nook, Fella’s, Rocco’s and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society.